classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Juno

While I would not call Juno a sleeper hit in 2007, nor a surprise at the 2008 Oscars winning one of the four it was nominated for (winning for Best Screenplay and nominated for Best Director, Actress, and Picture) I did not see this film talked about as much compared to some of the other films that year. That being said it was still a fantastic film and I would put this very high on the must see movie list. Spoilers ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

16 year old Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page) becomes pregnant after sleeping with one of her best friends, and someone who has been in love with her for a long time, Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera). She makes an appointment at the abortion clinic, but after arriving there changes her mind and decides to have the baby adopted. Juno, along with her best friend Leah (Olivia Thirlby) tell her father Mac and stepmother Brenda (J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney) she is pregnant and they offer support in her decision. Juno finds the seemingly perfect couple in Vanessa and Mark Loring (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman). Over the pregnancy Juno struggles with her feelings for Paulie, as well as spending time with the Lorings, more specifically Mark which may or may not backfire later. About as far as I can go without giving away the rest of the movie.

As stated before this was one of the best films I have seen, from the Oscar winning script by Diablo Cody, the incredible and funny performances not just by Page who stands out in her own way, but by all the cast, the amazing directing by Jason Reitman to the rather unique soundtrack, I personally have not downloaded the songs but if you like them than go for it.

Like many of the critics who praised Juno, I loved how Juno chose against abortion and go for adoption. I’d rather not go political on my blog and I have no intention on explaining my views on abortion because it is not worth getting into an internet fight if someone is against or for abortion. All I will say is for this film I am happy with the decision Juno made. While I would not say the film glamorizes teen pregnancy it had an effect. Shortly after the film, and other films such as Knocked Up came out 17 high school students of Gloucester Massachusetts were expecting, TIME called it “The Juno Effect.” Many blamed statistics others blamed the movies; it was rather interesting watching and reading about this. I have no experience in any of this so I am probably the last person to take advice from, but if I may say something on the matter: be safe, be responsible and be smart.

classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Rebel Without A Cause

One of the most iconic films of the 1950’s and one of the very few films to portray teenagers as not perfect. This film also has tragic stories for its three leads of the film. If you have not seen it spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Jim Stark (James Dean) is arrested for being publicly drunk and is taken to the local juvenile division of the local police. He meets two other teens: John Crawford aka Plato (Sal Mineo) and Judy (Natalie Wood). Plato was arrested for shooting dead puppies while Judy broke curfew. Problems at home are soon revealed for all three teens: Jim is angry with his parents constant bickering and his father failing to stand up for himself (he screams “You’re TEARING ME APART” when they fight at the station, an iconic line from the movie), Judy believes her father does not love her anymore because she is no longer a little girl and the clothes she wears only cause more resentment, and finally Plato’s mother is never around. The next day at school Jim, who has become enamored with Judy, offers her a ride home only to be stopped by her “friends” a gang of teens. Their leader Buzz (Corey Allen) challenges Jim to a knife fight, with Jim almost winning. Buzz then asks for a chicken run with stolen cars. Jim agrees and Plato comes along, seeing Jim almost as a father figure. The chicken run tragically does not go as planned and Jim, Plato and Judy are forced to deal with their home lives, the gang coming after them as well as become closer together, almost acting out a fantasy as a family. I will say this if you expect this film to have a happy ending, brace yourself.

This has been listed multiple times as one of the best films ever made, and with good reason.  It was not only well written and well acted this was one of the few films back then that showed not all home lives were picture perfect: teenagers acting out, families arguing, gangs, young tragic deaths, etc. The performances by Dean, Wood and Mineo are the best parts of the film, Mineo and Wood nominated for Oscars and Dean’s going down as the best performance of his career, which makes their stories more tragic. Dean, just off his Oscar nominated role of East of Eden, died in a car accident on September 30, 1955 before the film was released. Mineo was murdered on February 12, 1976 and finally Natalie Wood drowned on November 29, 1981, a case that is still in the news. Tragic stories for a movie with many tragedies in the plot itself. I would highly recommend watching Rebel Without A Cause as soon as possible, it is that good.

classic, film, must see

Classic Movie Review: Jaws

Do not watch this film before going to the beach, no one is going to want to be anywhere near the water. Based on the 1974 best selling novel by Peter Benchley, which were partly inspired by the real shark attacks at the Jersey Shore in 1916, Jaws was one of the first films to be what is called now a summer block buster. It raked in nearly $471 million at the box office in 1975, and another hit for Steven Spielberg. It is considered to not only be one of, if not the, best horror/thriller/suspense films of all time, but one of the best films ever; hence why I’m putting classic in the title. If you are not scared of sharks before this movie, you will be after. I am someone who is deathly afraid of sharks, yes I know the shark is fake, and I still cannot watch this film without feeling terrified. If you have not seen it spoilers ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Amity Island is a popular beach town with many coming to spend a day at the gorgeous beach. During a late night party teenager Chrissie Watkins (Susan Backlinie) goes skinny dipping in the ocean. Within moments she is dragged underwater screaming but no one seems to hear her. Her remains are seen the next day and the corner determines it to be a shark attack, more specifically a great white. Police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) asks the mayor Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton) to close the beaches for safety but as the town needs the tourism the mayor refuses. A bounty is placed on the shark, prompting amateur hunters to come to town. When a wrong shark is picked up and attacks still continue Brody decides to go after the shark along with professional shark hunter Quint (Robert Shaw) and oceanographer Matt Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss). The three men then go on a terrifying adventure. I cannot go more into it without spoiling.

I had heard of this movie for many years, but was always scared to watch it. Finally I sucked up and rented it; and I am glad I did. This has the right amount of thrills and believe when I say I was scared to death. I do not care what year it is, this film will forever go down as a classic. The acting in the film, particularity Scheider, Shaw and Dreyfuss, are some of the best in film. Watching these guys on the boat in between the attacks and even during the attacks is something to behold. I’m positive if you have not seen the film you had to have heard of the famous line “You are gonna need a bigger boat.” Scheider actually ad-libed that line, and it has since gone down into classic movie history. That being said, this film is not perfect. There are a few things towards the end of the movie that I am positive cannot happen due to animal nature; the other thing which I’m sure you’ve heard of have scientifically proven to be impossible thanks to the Myth Busters. I of course cannot forget that iconic theme, no one cannot hear that theme without thinking of this film or go “hey that is one of the best themes in movie history.” That theme may have been the reason why Jaws won the Oscar for Best Original Dramatic Score (the score also won a Grammy) it also won for best sound and best editing. There were three sequels to Jaws, but only one is worth watching, that is a story for another day. If you have not seen Jaws put this at the very top of the recommendation list, but make sure you are not swimming that day.

classic, film, must see

Classic Movie Review: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Why did I put classic up there; the answer is simple. I don’t care what year it is, 1986 when the film came out, 2018, or even 2121; Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, along with many other films directed by the late John Hughes, will forever be listed as one of the best films for teens, students, young adults, whatever you want to list it as. An absolute classic, if you haven’t seen it what are you waiting for? As always spoilers will be ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick), a high school student in Chicago fakes being sick to stay home, and breaks the fourth wall talking to the audience. His parents Tom and Katie (Lyman Ward and Cindy Pickett) completely buy it, but two people do not; Ferris’ sister Jeannie (Jennifer Grey) and his Dean of Students Edward R. Rooney (Jeffrey Jones); both are determined to prove Ferris is faking. Meanwhile Ferris convinces his best friend Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) and girlfriend Sloane Peterson (Mia Sara) to join him on his day off, and also persuades Cameron to “borrow” his father’s most prized possession, a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder (which a couple of attendants take for a joy ride.) Ferris, Cameron and Sloane enjoy their day off in downtown Chicago, somehow avoiding Ferris’ dad in the process. Meanwhile Jeannie and Rooney go through their own antics to prove Ferris is lying, some more hilarious than the others. Keep an eye out for Charlie Sheen in this film as well.

This film is a classic as I stated multiple times before because it is. Broderick gives the best performance in his career as Ferris. I really enjoy how he talks to the audience throughout the film, it makes you feel like you are a part of the film something not seen too much in films then or now. Alan Ruck is so fantastic as Cameron, he almost steals the film from Ferris. Mia Sara is great as Sloane. Jennifer Grey is awesome as Jeannie and finally Jeffrey Jones is without question one of the best parts in this film. The story is so well written, you actually do not want Ferris to get caught. I cannot forget the amazing job John Hughes does directing, a true visionary in his time. If you have not seen it, put this at the very top of the recommendation list.

classic, film, musical, must see

TV movie Review: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, 1997 version

I was planning on doing this at a later time, but as yesterday was the 20th Anniversary I kinda of feel obligated to write about one of my favorite version’s of this musical fairy tale. It is not only one of the best versions of the tale, but it opened eyes to how a story can be told. Cannot talk about this without spoiling, then again you probably know the story so what’s the point in saying beware. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Cinderella (Brandy) is living with her cruel stepmother (Bernadette Peters) and her stepsisters Minerva (Natalie Desselle-Reid) and Calliope (Veanne Cox.) She is treated as a servant, but made a promise to her father they would stay together after he passed. One day in the market her imagination wanders, thinking of finding “the one” and almost gets run over by a carriage. She is helped by a handsome stranger and they quickly realize how much they have in common, not satisfied in their lives. They are drawn to each other until stepmother scolds her for talking to each other. As you can probably guess that stranger is the Prince Christopher (Paolo Montalban.) He feels isolated in the palace with his only companion being Lionel his valet (Jason Alexander.)

His parents, more specifically his mother Queen Constantina (Whoopi Goldberg), decide to throw him a ball to find a bride. Christopher wants to find love the old fashioned way, his father King Maximilian (Victor Garber) understands, but the Queen takes charge. The whole village prepares for the ball, including Cinderella’s stepmother for her daughters, not Cinderella who wishes to go. Prince Christopher eventually agrees to the ball, but makes his parents promise if he doesn’t find his love at the ball it will be on his own terms. The night of the ball Cinderella tearfully wishes to go to the ball, and her wish is granted by her sassy fairy godmother (Whitney Houston.) Shortly after arriving Cinderella and Prince Christopher fall in love, but at the stroke of midnight she takes off leaving her glass slipper. Cinderella’s stepmother realizes who that mysterious girl was at the ball and diminishes Cinderella and her father. The next day Christopher and Lionel search for her, and almost give up hope after the stepmother’s house, Cinderella wasn’t there having planned to run away. However once he leaves Christopher and Cinderella find each other and remember their first meeting. They shortly marry with Fairy Godmother watching from far away.

I’m sure you are thinking this, “what makes this version so much better than the others?” Well for starts that all star and diverse cast. Only in this film and in so many other Rodgers and Hammerstein productions (Broadway or film productions) will you see people of different ethic backgrounds in a musical, it is probably only in this film will you see an African American woman and a Caucasian man have a Filipino American son. But that is what many love about this film is how diverse the cast is, even critics who disliked the film at the time liked the diversity. The soundtrack is also absolutely incredible with songs from the original musical, but two additional songs. This version was a HUGE hit for ABC with 60 million watching this on it’s first night! It you were not one of those viewers please find this, I’m sure it is one YouTube somewhere this is an AWESOME version of the classic fairy tale.

classic, film, Holiday, musical, must see

Classic Movie Review: Meet Me in St. Louis

Once again I have to call this a classic because it is. One of my favorite musicals and favorite Judy Garland movies of all time, released in 1944; this might be her second best known work after Wizard of Oz. I’ll even tell you the best time to watch this film is around Christmas, which I will go into later. As always spoilers ahead. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Beginning in the summer of 1903 we are on a journey with the Smiths, a family living in St. Louis: Father Alonzo (Leon Ames), Mother Anna (Mary Astor), one son Lon Jr.(Henry H. Daniels Jr.) and four daughters Rose (Lucille Bremer), Esther (Garland), Agnes (Joan Carroll) and Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) along with a house keeper Katie (Marjorie Main) and Grandpa (Harry Davenport.) The World’s Fair is a year away and the family is excited, Mr. Smith is questionable. Rose and Esther are struggling with their romantic lives; Rose is expecting her boyfriend Warren Sheffield (Robert Sully) to propose but he has yet to do so and Esther is hopelessly in love with the boy next door John Truett (Tom Drake). When Mr. Smith announces the family will move to New York, the family is devastated because their whole lives are in St. Louis and they will miss the Fair. I cannot go too far without giving away the rest of the movie, you just have to watch it.

This is a film consistently listed as one of the best musicals of all time, and I completely agree. Garland is one of the best actresses ever on film, and she shines just as bright in this film as her other work. However it takes a great ensemble and when it comes to musicals this cast is hard to beat. I also love the stories and how intertwined they are, at first it won’t make sense but give it a few moments and it will. Meanwhile the soundtrack has some of the best songs in a musical. Here are some of my favorites: “The Trolley Song” sung by a chorus of teenagers about the St. Louis trolley and Garland as she imagines about John and “The Boy Next Door” an almost single camera shot with Garland as she expresses her love for John. However there is a song from this film more famous than the film itself, and why you should watch it at Christmas. That song is called “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” Yes, one of the most famous and beloved Christmas songs of all time came from this film. Just a heads up the lyrics for this film are different than other versions, you can thank Frank Sinatra for that, but nonetheless hearing Garland sing this song to Margaret O’Brien in this film is hauntingly beautiful. If you are not going to watch this film, although I’d put it on a must watch list, listen to the soundtrack. I promise you will not be disappointed.

classic, film, musical, must see

Movie Review: Fiddler on the Roof

No matter how familiar you are with Broadway, or musicals in general, you had to have heard of this one. Based on the 1964 musical, this 1971 film is one of the few true adaptions of Broadway musicals, a few songs missing but the story still follows. It won three Oscars for the music and was nominated for several others, including Best Picture. As always beware of spoilers. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

In the small village of Anatevka a poor Jewish milkman Tevye (Topol) constantly talks to God about his worries, most of which include his FIVE daughters and his wife Goldie (Norma Crane in her final role.) Tevye arranges for his eldest daughter Tzeitel (Rosalind Harris) to marry the wealthy butcher Lazar Wolf (Paul Mann), but Tzeitel wants to marry her childhood sweetheart Motel (Leonard Frey). Tevye at first is not accepting of this because of traditions, but sees how much his daughter loves Motel and finds a way to get out of the arrangement. The second daughter Hodel (Michele Marsh) falls for Perchik (Michael Glaser) a radial Marxist and the third daughter Chava (Neva Small) falls for Fyedka (Raymond Lovelock) a Russian Christian; Tevye is NOT OK with one of these relationships. Meanwhile while the romantic problems are happening the Russian government’s presence in the village soon becomes dangerous, and the residents may be forced to leave. About as far as I can go without giving away the rest of the film.

When watching the film and seeing each character go through their problems, you can’t help but feel along with them (whether it is meant to be funny or heart-breaking.) At one point in the film when Tevye discovers one of his daughter’s marriage’s you see the hurt on his face and how much it pains him when he feels forced to disown her. I just want to be clear on a few things, I do not know if this can give someone an idea of the Jewish culture, so do not make any assumptions please. If you like musicals I would put this on your must watch list.